Brazil

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Report to the IAPA 77 General Assembly Virtual
October 19-22, 2021
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The main reasons for the disturbing outlook for press freedom are the impunity of crimes committed against journalists - and the aggressive stance of Jair Bolsonaro's government against press professionals.

President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies continue to attack journalistic activity and feed anti-press narratives that social networks replicate. The government has also sought - so far unsuccessfully - to put an end to the legislation on the publication of company balance sheets and bidding notices in newspapers - with the aim of financially harming the sector.

Marcelo Rech - president of the National Newspaper Association (ANJ) - defines the situation in the country as follows: "No government likes criticism or the independent press. The difference between democratic and autocratic regimes lies in how they deal with the free press. President Jair Bolsonaro's systematic attacks and attempts to economically weaken the media indicate that, in Brazil, the government is seeking to adopt a model similar to that of Venezuela, the Philippines, Turkey and other regimes that do not coexist well with press freedom."

During this period there were numerous cases of aggression and threats against journalists and media companies. There have been frequent physical or verbal attacks by supporters of the president against reporters, cameramen or photographers - while covering public demonstrations in support of the government.

This climate of intolerance and aggressiveness against the press can be illustrated, for example, by an unfortunate incident that took place on May 23, in Rio de Janeiro - during a public demonstration by bikers. Pedro Duran - a CNN Brazil reporter - was beaten and kicked by supporters of the president, and the police had to step in to prevent what could have been a lynching.

On September 6, Eranildo Cruz, known as "Chocolate" - who was editor-director of the Tribuna Regional newspaper - was found dead - with his hands tied and signs of torture - in a house in Monte Dourado, district of Almeirim, in the state of Pará Norte. The journalist covered political issues and social movements. A suspect in the crime was arrested on September 14.

On September 28, journalist Paulo Cezar de Andrade Prado - who covers sports and politics for Blog do Paulinho - was arrested after being sentenced to five months in prison, in semi-open regime, for libel against businessman Paulo Sérgio Menezes García. In 2016, when García was vice president of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, the journalist wrote a report denouncing irregularities in his actions.

During this period, cases of prior censorship enforced by the Brazilian justice system continued - in total disregard for the provisions of the country's Constitution. On August 26, the judges' rulings against freedom of the press prompted the protest of three associations representing the country's media. The Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters (ABERT), the National Association of Magazine Editors (ANER) and the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ) condemned three cases of prior censorship in just one week: Against RBS TV reports - in relation to cases of corruption committed by a Rio Grande do Sul state councilor; against Piauí magazine - in relation to a sexual harassment investigation; and against O Globo newspaper - in relation to a report on suspicious financial transactions investigated by the Senate Parliamentary Investigation Commission on the federal government's management of the pandemic.

Main attacks against journalists and media during this period:

As of September 29, 79 press professionals have been blocked. Since January 2020, President Bolsonaro has tweeted 4,120 texts of up to 280 characters - of which 98.6% (4,052) were of public interest - to publicize government actions, pronouncements, mobilize militants or promote other communication channels. Bolsonaro has already blocked channels DCM, Aos Fatos, The Intercept Brasil, Congresso em Foco, Repórter Brasil and O Antagonista.

According to a survey by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), from September 2020 to August 27, 2021, 38 politicians and senior officials of the Brazilian bureaucracy banned 141 press professionals from Twitter - for a total of 285 blocks. Six politicians banned 12 media outlets from accessing their accounts.

In July, Judge Air Marin Junior - from the 2nd Special Civil Court of Boa Vista, in the state of Roraima - ordered, by injunction, the deletion of parts of a report prepared by Repórter Brasil, in cooperation with the Amazônia Real website, on the illegal sale of gold - denouncing the illegal acquisition of material extracted from the Yanomami Indigenous Territory.

On August 19, Judge Ana Maria Ferreira - from the 3rd Civil Chamber of the Court of Justice of the Federal District and Territories - ordered the deletion of information on financial transactions of VTC Log - a company investigated by Covid's CPI - from the website of the newspaper O Globo.

On August 21, a court order by Judge Jorge André Pereira Gailhard - from the 5th Civil Chamber of the Rio Grande do Sul Court of Justice - prevented RBS TV's local newspapers from publishing a report on corruption in the state.

On August 23, photojournalist Edmar Barros - a freelance in the Amazon - received death threats. Professionals of Red Amazonía have also been threatened and attacked for their professional work.

On August 25, Judge Tula Corrêa de Mello - from the 20th Criminal Court of Rio de Janeiro - imposed prior censorship on the magazine Piauí in connection with an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against comedian Marcius Melhem - reported by at least eight colleagues.

On September 9, five press professionals were assaulted while covering the departure of the Brazilian national team from a hotel in the Boa Viagem neighborhood - in the south of Recife, state of Pernambuco. Fans waiting for the athletes threw stones, plants and water and insulted the reporters of TV Globo, Folha de Pernambuco and TV Jornal (an affiliate of SBT). According to the fans, the press obstructed their view of the players.

On September 28, film reporter Rodrigo Marques - from RIC Record TV, in Londrina, Paraná - was assaulted while covering a traffic accident. The driver who caused the accident tried to prevent him from taking pictures and broke his filming equipment.

On October 11 and 12, people who identified themselves as supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro attacked two news crews - one from GloboNews and the other from TV Tribuna, a TV Globo affiliate in Santos, São Paulo - while the reporters were doing their job.

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